The Origin and Destiny of Tolerance

There's no point to arguing politics or religion. Regardless of what they say (and often believe) most people are NOT open minded. They know what's true - even those who don't believe in Truth - and aren't interested in your misguided version. They won't accept your evidence. And even incontrovertible evidence wouldn't lead to their adopting your ideas. No, at that point they switch to personal attacks against you and the evidence you rode in on. No, the only way to effectively deal with people of different persuasions is to kill them.

For thousands of years this has been the way heresy (and freethinking) has been dealt with. Society deemed what was the "proper" way to believe, and those that didn't toe the line had to leave society, usually tied to a stake and screaming.

Then, miraculously in the West, specifically early modern Western Europe the idea of religious tolerance was born. Secular humanists credit the erosion of religious fanaticism during the "enlightenment." But that's nonsense. Up until the last couple generations atheists have been a tiny minority and never held political power anywhere until 1917 Russia where they immediately began their own inquisition against religion. No, the reason the idea of religious freedom took hold in the West was the Thirty Years War.

The Thirty Years War was the classic religious war. Fought ostensibly to determine the supremacy of Catholicism or Protestantism, it raged through central Europe for, well, about thirty years. And in that time a third of the population perished, making it almost as destructive as the Black Death. 

Both sides discovered that while burning a few heretics at the stake is pretty easy, burning a whole neighboring country is much harder, especially when they're trying to do the same thing to you. Eventually, about thirty years and ten million corpses later, diplomats agreed to allow rulers to decide the issue of religion for their own nations and to tolerate the dissenters next door. In Protestant nations with many splintered denominations this idea eventually morphed into the concept that religious convictions were a matter best left to an individual's conscience. 

Freedom of religion didn't arise because the Protestants or Catholics suddenly thought the other side's ideas were as valid as theirs. No. To this day there are protestant sects that teach that the Pope is the antichrist. And any Catholic will tell you Protestants are going straight to Hell when they die. They're not like-minded. They simply agreed to disagree. The bloody carnage of attempting to purge Europe and cleanse it from error was worse than just allowing people to go to hell in their own way. And so religious tolerance was born.

You can see this attitude in the way the European colonial powers dealt with religion in their colonies. While they all sent out missionaries to covert the heathen, only the Spanish waged an aggressive war of annihilation against the native religions. I think this was because the Spanish were the least affected by the Thirty Years War and consequently the "lesson" made little impact on them. In Dutch Indonesia, French North Africa and British India the local religions were left strictly alone. Even the British suppression of the Thugee cult and the custom of suttee were not done to combat Hinduism but because the activities involved murder.  

And religious freedom also meant freedom to be unreligious. By the Eighteenth Century the atheism that would have got you burned alive in the Middle Ages was pretty much seen in the same light as polite society sees the current black-garbed, tattooed and pierced crowd. While they don't get invited to the best parties, they don't really care, either. 

The first time tolerance broke down was the French Revolution. And strangely, at least to secularists, it wasn't the Church that threw the first punch. The revolutionary government seized church property, banned the practice of Christianity and attempted to impose its own religion of "Reason." Jesus said "turn the other cheek" but people seem to have difficulty doing that, especially when they're practicing live and let live and the other side says convert or die. So a lot of people got guillotined and the end result was Napoleon's coup. The revolutionary government went away and religious freedom came back in style. 

Until the Russian Revolution in 1917. The atheistic Soviets carried on a determined war against both religion and other forms of dissent, slaughtering sixty-one million people by the time the Berlin War fell and Communism collapsed.   

And today in America religious freedom is under attack. But not by some wacky televangelist or organization of pedophile priests. Just as in the French and the Russian revolutions, it is a group that has no previous experience with sectarian Armageddon. The Jews know what it's like to be persecuted. Christians of whatever sect have a 300-year tradition of religious tolerance. Sure, they'd prefer you converted. But in the end it's never been mandatory, required by law in any country since the end of the Thirty Years War. 

And it's not Christians trying to force non-believers to celebrate Christmas, it's secular humanists trying to cleanse the country by driving all forms of religion out. Christians don't sue Jews to keep them from displaying Hanukkah decorations, or vice versa. Christian politicans don't use public funds to build monuments to the Bible. Christians are the ones who came up with separation of church and state to begin with. And it wasn't because they didn't want religion in politics. It was because the various sects couldn't agree which of them would be in charge. So the decision was made, none of them could be.  

But the Progressive secular humanist movement disagrees. They know what's best for everyone. And for that matter, so do the Catholics, and the Baptists and the Jews and Methodists and Mormons and everybody else. The difference is, the others have learned the bloody lesson that you can't change someone else's mind. You can only kill them. And when you try, some of them will try to kill you back. This has bad effects on society.

Today we see increasing violence from Moslems, a religion that also didn't go through the Thirty Years War and has no tolerance for anybody. But the damage to our society from a handful of foreign fanatics, while costly, does not threaten our existence. The attacks of 9-11 killed fewer people than a typical day's casualties of either world war and even adding in the battle casualties from Iraq and Afghanistan, while unfortunate, do not even compare with Vietnam. An attack by an Islamic nuclear weapon might kill tens of thousands (and galvanize Western opposition) but the loss of a city would not destroy our civilization.

But as Progressives gather more power into their hands and employ that power to reform society into their ideal, they've shown themselves to be intolerant of religion. In France even the public wearing of a crucifix is punishable. Obamacare requires religious organizations to fund abortion and contraceptives, regardless of their religious beliefs. There are more and more restrictions on home Bible studies, church charities (feeding the homeless is illegal in some places) and other attacks on conscience. While the Bible is banned from public schools, the Progressive writings of Marx and Alinsky are required reading. Homosexual groups receive public funds while Christian student groups are banned from campus. The Progressive media elites continue to harp on the imminent dangers of religious "extremists" by which they mean people who aren't secular humanists. It is obvious Progressives do not understand (or care to understand) what freedom of religion means. And what it means is nobody gets to reform society in their chosen image.

Now, I don't mean to initiate a debate over whether Christianity or secular humanism is better for society or people in general. Everybody already has their own ideas and wouldn't listen anyway. But based on historic precedents, when the last shreds of religious freedom end in a country, a frightful religious war begins. Millions will die and our civilization will never be the same. And the only one's who can prevent this are... secular progressives. 

Christians (of some sect or another) have been running this country since 1776. They haven't tried to ban atheism. And they're the ones who put in the constitution that part about it being illegal to establish an official religion in the first place. They've got a 300-year tradition of live and let live. All the attacks are being initiated by the secular progressives. They're the ones suing and legislating and imposing. They can call a cease-fire any time they like. And that's all I'm asking for. Because the alternative is the end of civilization.

You can't change our minds, any more than we can reach yours. So you'll have to kill us. All of us.

Is your secular paradise worth that? 

And regardless of that "other cheek" thing, we're not just going to obediently stick our heads into the guillotine either. That one-third of European population that died in the Thirty Years War wasn't all on the same side. It was more like fifty-fifty. 

America will never be the same. But somehow I don't think that's the kind of hope and change you're looking for.